The Glen of Imaal Terrier dog breed is a dwarf terrier from Ireland. Also known as Wicklow Terrier or Irish Glen, or just Glen, this breed was originally a hunter of vermin. They were used for eliminating fox, otter, badger and other smaller mammals in and around the County of Wicklow. Unlike other terrier breeds, the Glen worked quietly by going straight into the tunnels and dens of these animals.
Today, these relatively easygoing and calm dogs are mainly family pets and companion dogs. They are ideal for those who want an active and playful dog that is not too demanding.
The Glen of Imaal Terriers are known by their place of origin in Ireland. Their exact lineage is not clear, but it is assumed that this dog is a mixture of the short-legged hounds of the French who settled in the area, and local terrier breeds. Besides being used as hunters of vermin, these dogs might have been pitted against each other, and also used at the turnspit where meat was cooked.
The breed remained unchanged over a long time, and had become nearly extinct by the beginning of the 20th century, but it was revived by Irish breeders. Even though it was recognized as a distinct terrier breed in Ireland in the early 20th century, and was introduced into the United States soon after, recognition from AKC came only in 2004. It remains a rare breed even today, with only a few hundred registered members around.
The Glen of Imaal Terrier dog breed has a dwarf stature because of its short legs. There may be just 12-14 inches tall, but their average weight is about 35 pounds, many dogs in the show circles weighing up to 45 pounds. The glens have a long and muscular body supported by sturdy legs. The head is relatively large, with half-pricked ears set on top back on either side. The fluffy tail is held erect and slightly curving forward, but it is often docked at half length in countries where docking is still legal.
This breed has a double coat; the broken outer coat is rough with wiry, medium-long hair, but the undercoat is soft. Wheaten, silver, blue, and brindle coats occur, often with black highlights. These dogs are known for their erect sitting posture known as “Glen sit.”
The Glen of Imaal Terrier dog breed is an active, yet even tempered terrier. In spite of their small size, they act like a much bigger dog, with an authoritative bark to go with it. These intelligent dogs are quick at learning, and respond to correction, but can be stubborn at times. These dogs are slow to mature; their puppyhood typically extending up to 4 years.
Extremely friendly and sociable, these dogs are good with children. Early socialization is necessary, especially with smaller household pets such as rabbits and gerbils as they may trigger the hunting instinct in them. These dogs are known to react aggressively to other dogs when provoked. They are fearless and tenacious, as can be expected from a dog used to hunting foxes and other prey bigger than them.
Grooming and exercise
The Glen of Imaal Terrier dog breed requires to be groomed two to three times a week to keep its shaggy coat in good condition. Thorough brushing should keep the coat smooth and prevent matting. Since the dog does not shed dead hair, hand stripping should be done every three months or so.
These small but active dogs need plenty of exercise and activities to stay happy and contented. Regular walks on the leash and some activities are a must. They are very playful, and enjoy games with their family and learning and performing tricks. They remain so much attached to their owners that they will walk beside them even without a leash.
These dogs have the protection of their shaggy coat, and are capable of withstanding cold to a great extent. Free access to a yard is ideal, as they can stay outdoors round the year with ample protection from extreme temperatures. However, these people-oriented dogs are not to be left outside at night. They are better off sleeping in the house with their family.
Common health issues of Glen of Imaal Terrier dog breed
The Glen of Imaal Terrier dog breed is a healthy breed, but they may have a few problems such as Progressive Retinal Atrophy and Canine Hip Dysplasia. This dwarf breed is prone to lameness from growth plate injuries sustained in their first year of life. Regular health checkups and prompt treatment may help these dogs lead a long and healthy life. The breed has an average life expectancy of 10-14 years.